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Beyond sex: Exploring the effects of femininity and masculinity on women’s use of influence tactics

Ho Kwan Cheung (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)
Alex Lindsey (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)
Eden King (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)
Michelle R Hebl (Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 7 March 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

Influence tactics are prevalent in the workplace and are linked to crucial outcomes such as career success and helping behaviours. The authors argue that sex role identity affects women’s choice of influence tactics in the workplace, but they only receive positive performance ratings when their behaviours are congruent with gender role expectation. Furthermore, the authors hypothesize that these relationships may be moderated by occupational continuance commitment. Results suggest that femininity is negatively related to the use of influence tactics overall, and this relationship is moderated by occupational continuance commitment.

Design/methodology/approach

In all, 657 women working in the construction industry were surveyed for their continuance occupational commitment and sex role identity and 465 supervisors whose responses are linked with the subordinates are surveyed for the women’s influence tactics and performance ratings.

Findings

Results suggested that femininity was negatively related to the use of influence tactics overall, and this relationship was moderated by occupational continuance commitment. Results also showed that women’s use of influence tactics was only positively received in terms of performance ratings when the influence tactic was congruent with gender role expectations.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this current study suggest that not all women are equally likely to use influence tactics and not all tactics result in positive perceptions of performance. Feminine women in general refrain from using influence tactics unless they are driven to stay in a given occupation, but they only receive positive results when their behaviours are congruent with society’s gender role expectations.

Originality/value

Past research has mostly focused on broad differences between males and females, and this study has shown that there are more nuanced differences that can more accurately describe the effects of gender disposition (i.e. sex role identity) on influence tactics. It also emphasizes the importance of occupational commitment as a boundary condition, which influences women to step out of their gender roles even though they may be penalized with lower performance ratings.

Keywords

Citation

Cheung, H.K., Lindsey, A., King, E. and Hebl, M.R. (2016), "Beyond sex: Exploring the effects of femininity and masculinity on women’s use of influence tactics", Gender in Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 43-60. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-12-2014-0107

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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